Balestier dig deep for win

RHB Singapore Cup, Quarter-final, 1st leg

Balestier Khalsa 2
(Goran Ljubojevic 64-pen, Kim Minho 78)

Geylang International 1
(Hafiz Nor 6)


They conceded a goal after just six minutes and were reduced to 10 men eight minutes before halftime, but Balestier Khalsa were still able to fight back and come away with 2-1 win over Geylang International in the first leg of their RHB Singapore Cup quarter-final clash at Toa Payoh Stadium last night.

A penalty goal by Goran Ljubojevic and one by Kim Minho in the second half ensured the Tigers posted a victory at home, after Hafiz Nor drew first blood for Geylang.

Balestier head coach Marko Kraljevic said, after the match: "I told the players during the break that I believed in them, and I knew we could come back from 1-0.

"In the first half we didn't play well, but it was their hard work that won the game. When you're a goal down and playing with 10 men, everyone else raised up their energy levels. Everyone gave 110 per cent."

Geylang were the better side in the opening half with Ridhuan Muhammad a constant threat down the flanks, and things went from bad to worse for the Tigers, whose lack of discipline could hurt their quest for silverware this season.

Yusiskandar Yusop received a straight red card from the referee in the 37th minute for an ugly two-footed tackle that left Geylang's Franco Chivilo in a heap. It was the defender's second red card of the season.

The Tigers came back from the break with a roar, though, forcing Geylang to play deep in their own half.

Just past the hour mark, Syed Taha sent a cross to a waiting Ljubojevic, whose header was handled by Joaquin Lopez, and the referee didn't hesitate to award a penalty.

Ljubojevic rocketed his shot to the roof of the goal and levelled the score in the 64th minute.

Balestier continued to fight hard and hardly looked like a side with a man short.

Twelve minutes from time, the whole Geylang defence went to sleep, as Balestier substitute Ruhaizad Ismail found Kim Minho, who rifled a shot into the bottom corner.

Geylang coach Jorg Steinebrunner lamented his side's lack of desire in the second half.

He said: "In the second half we forgot to compete and forgot how to play football.

"We knew that Balestier would come back fighting, we expected it. But we gifted them the two goals.

"Maybe this is a wake-up call for the players, to not take the second leg for granted."

The second leg will be played at Bedok Stadium on Wednesday at 8pm.

This article was first published on JUNE 29, 2014.
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